5 Ways to Respond To Someone Who Refuses to Wear a Mask

5 Ways to Respond To Someone Who Refuses to Wear a Mask

We are amidst unusual times that most of us could never have imagined, which in-turn have created a few unique situations that are uncomfortable for most people to respond to. One of these situations is around wearing a mask. As most of you are aware, there are two extremes when it comes to people’s opinions on masks, they are either all for them or are convinced that it’s a conspiracy theory.

Those who are against them come in two types, they are either quiet about it and don’t wear them, dispute the rules, or they are belligerent. To help prepare you, we’ve compiled 5 ways to respond to someone who refuses to wear a mask. 

After months of reading about overflowing hospitals and record-breaking deaths, you would think that people would listen to the Center of Disease Control on how they can protect themselves from the virus.

However, posts are going viral on the internet about how masks don’t protect you. For people who are uneducated on the subject, the posts seem to make compelling arguments. However, they aren’t stating all the facts. Much like anything, a theory can make sense until new data is presented to debunk the theory. 

Let’s clear one thing up; it is easy to hate something that’s annoying, uncomfortable, and anything but a fashion statement. We get it. However, clearing up the rebuttals and understanding what someone may say will help make responding to someone who refuses to wear a mask much easier. 

Rebuttal One: It Doesn’t Really Protect You 

This one is somewhat truthful, depending on the situation. If a person is wearing a bandana made of breathable cotton, it’s not doing much for the person wearing it or the people around them. Understanding which materials protect you, others or neither is vital information that should be circling around the internet more than some of these. We’ve included an infographic below for those of you who are not familiar with the different levels of protection based on materials

Rebuttal Two: Wearing a Mask Makes You Breath in C02

This one should be common sense for most people. Surgeons wear masks to protect their patients during surgery, and some surgical procedures last over 12 hours. Medical professionals also have to wear masks during their full 12-hour shifts during flu season if they opt-out of getting the flu vaccine and again whenever a patient is in isolation. Masks are part of many healthcare providers’ ever-day work. For those who don’t relate to healthcare, other jobs such as construction require the use of masks to prevent fumes or protect them from dust. Artists also wear masks when painting. Doctors are helping this rebuttal by testing their oxygen levels after long shifts and strenuous hikes. 

Rebuttal Three: I Have a Medical Condition 

Doctors say people with medical conditions such as emphysema need to wear masks in public because they are at greater risk for severe disease if they get COVID-19. Even if someone relies on oxygen, they can wear a loose-fitting mask over their cannula. If someone with a severe respiratory condition is having a tough time breathing, they should talk to their doctor or try a face shield. Face shields are used to block incoming respiratory droplets, though it’s not yet known how well they protect other people from the wearer. 

Rebuttal Four: COVID-19 is a Hoax

This is a much harder one to fight. Rather than getting into the statistics and trying to prove them wrong. It’s best just to let them believe what they want. It’s not your job to educate them. 

In addition to the above, there are some psychological reasons for not wearing a mask. CNN did a great job diving into “Why People Won’t Wear a Face Mask.”

So based on the above, what are the best ways to respond? 

No matter how well you’ve trained on responding, citing protocols, and navigating the conversation, there will be people who just refuse to listen. A recent example of this is a woman in San Diego who threatened a young boy. She stated that she had a medical condition and how dare he ask her to wear a mask.

Fortunately, no matter what business you’re working for, if the rule is to wear a mask, that is the right of the business owner to refuse service to the person who refuses to wear one. Ensure all signage is clear, point to the rule, be it on the door, at your desk, or posted around your place of business. If your company has security, it may come to the point where security needs to be called. 

Whatever you do, make sure you’re sweet like honey when you ask the customer to put on a mask while showing them the sign. Most people will respect that you’re just trying to do your job. If you’re at a location that isn’t your place of business, it’s best to discreetly inform the manager rather than trying to ask someone on your own.

Have you encountered any of the above situations? Let us know in the comments below. 


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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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